DMINLGP

DMin, Leadership and Global Perspectives: Crafting Ministry in an Interconnected World

I Try Not EVER To Be Naked In The Land Of Uncertainty

Written by: on June 28, 2018

What a book to end DMin year one on! Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within by Robert Quinn was a great one to go out on. Our year has been full of TREMENDOUS books, and this one was no sleeper. My title is of course a little off center, but realistically, I try not to be that vulnerable with myself or with others–That is, until this year!

The necessity of internal reflection and inner understanding has come through loud and clear as part of the LGP8 gaining leadership growth, including very much my own growth. The journey began with with our Personal Leadership Development Plan, and then reading books such as Leadership Pain (Chand), Overcoming the Dark Side of Leadership (Macintosh and Rima), and Bad Religion (Douthat). Now, DEEP CHANGE . Wow, that one packs a punch with both DEEP, and then even more of a challenge, with CHANGE.  Do those two words even go together? Thank goodness God is all about change, providing everything we need for lasting transformation through his Holy Spirit. Two steps forward and stay forward, not two steps forward and two steps back.

I must be honest though, when reading Quinn I was conflicted with what I learned prior from reading To Change the World by Hunter. Basically, hunter said there were many reasons lasting transformation rarely happened. Not with hard work, not with good intentions, or even with revival. No, it only happens with “Faithful Presence Within”. [1] But, then I remembered that Hunter was talking about changing society or the possibility of changing the world, while Quinn was talking about working on changing the individual by discovering the “Leader Within” [2] which would eventually lead to changing the organization, by “Vision, Risk, and the Creation of Excellence”. [3]

I took Quinn a big step further and wanted to answer a personal question for me: Would DEEP CHANGE work for an entire denomination, such as the Evangelical Church, of which I am a part? Now I know we are a tiny denomination compared to most, and I have only been a Conference Superintendent for 6 whopping months (26 weeks to be exact!).

But seriously, I feel like The Evangelical Church is in crisis. Like code red crisis. Much of what we have discussed in our Zoom chat sessions has revealed to me that my denomination may be on life support (and we are not alone). Rampant consumerism by our attenders (when they actually come to church), privileged racism (can anyone say extremely caucasian?), sexism (potentially, but not to the point of mysogynism), and of course the good old American spirit of capitalism–These are just a few of our problems. Add these together and then multiply by our main problem of INDIVIDUALISM, which I identified last week in my Blog on Boxers and Saints by Yang, by referencing Rah in The Next Evangelicalism. We need some CPR (again, we are not alone in America).

So here we go…

Quinn hit the nail on the head, I believe our denomination is facing the “Slow Death Dilemma”. [4] Down to only 125 churches, mostly in the Northwest, mainly in rural areas (when population trends lean dramatically towards urbanization), we are drying up. Yes, we have incredible areas of growth, but are not even closely keeping up with the market share of population growth around us. We have GREAT people, but aren’t being realistic because we both fear change and struggle to find vitality denomination wide. We are pretty good at task pursuit, but to the point of treasuring tasks over souls. Fifty percent of our churches nationwide have seen 2 or fewer conversions in the past year (33% of my 30 churches in my own conference have seen less than 2 conversions this year). Ouch!

So let’s gain a new perspective. I loved the talk in this book about “remythologizing”. [5] Telling our most important historical stories, which gets us back to our roots. Bingo! The word that comes to my mind is orthodoxy. Like returning to our roots, back to the simple basics, traditional, ORTHODOXY.

Like sports team getting back to the basics, that is what our denomination needs to do. What are our basics? A group of influencers in our denomination recently gathered together in Salem, Oregon to do re-discover just that. What they discovered is that our best stories have always been associated with two main themes–Evangelism and Discipleship.  We found this is paragraph 951 of our Discipline, and are now calling this the 951 Movement.

It may sound simplistic to do evangelism and discipleship (duh!), or even perplexing how we could have drifted away from these, especially since the “Evangelical” Church has strayed away from evangelism. But we have! Sorry to say, we have.

Therefore, this book helped me realize our preferred self-image had digressed from our actual behavior. [6] With integrity, I am calling this out. Our lived behavior requires a deep change! Our situation requires us confronting the undiscussable. [7]

With the power of one, starting internally with me, I pledge to focus on faithfulness and fruitfulness in my own ministry. Faithfulness to the Gospel, faithfulness to the Great Commission, faithfulness to my calling in Christ Jesus. And fruitfulness of earnestly seeking (and praying) for salvation, sanctification, and lasting transformation. Then I pledge to chase the same with my own Conference. Thirty churches, 107 Pastors. Faithfulness and Fruitfulness!

In closing, I was thrilled to start this book with the basketball illustration of Oscar Robertson! What a great example of DEEP CHANGE for our organizations!

 

[1] Hunter, James Davison. To Change the World the Irony, Tragedy, and Possibility of Christianity in the Late Modern World. Oxford University Press, 2010.

[2] Quinn, Robert E. Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within. Jossey-Bass, 1996. Preface

[3] Ibid., Loc. 1124.

[4] Ibid., Loc. 218.

[5] Ibid., Loc. 626.

[6] Ibid., Loc. 711.

[7] Ibid., Loc. 1516.

 

About the Author

mm

Jay Forseth

Superintendent of the Western Conference of the Evangelical Church. Blessed with 28 years as the husband of my amazing wife who I can't make it without. Now three of four in our family are attending University, but both my children are way smarter than me.

8 responses to “I Try Not EVER To Be Naked In The Land Of Uncertainty”

  1. mm M Webb says:

    Jay,
    I notice you are up late finishing your last post of the year!
    You need to examine Quinn’s theology before getting on his bus for the long ride my friend. He has some good stuff but needs a Biblical basis to make it complete.
    I see your pledges and raise you a promise to be an “ear” for you whenever needed. Hope to see you in HK!
    Stand firm,
    M. Webb

  2. mm Kyle Chalko says:

    Excellent reflection and application. I’m sure many of the churches you oversee will be benefitting from you reading this. well done.

  3. What a great post Jay! I loved the Oscar illustration, you always find a way to get sports in your posts 🙂 I join you in your sadness for the church and am inspired by your commitment to faithfulness and fruitfulness. You have such a beautiful heart for the Lord and His Great Commission. Your denomination is lucky to have you!

  4. Jay,

    Wonderful post full of vulnerability and honesty, thank you!

    Rather than dividing further, which is the Protestant way, have you thought at all that maybe the time is coming for you to lead a merger for your denomination with another? Just a thought.

    I hope and pray you have a beautiful summer of rest and renewal.

  5. Shawn Hart says:

    Jay, you always have very heart-felt post; I appreciate your personal reflection from this week. I also agree with the sentiment on getting back to the purity of evangelism and discipleship. I mentioned this in another post, but I feel we have worked to diligently at trying to please the masses, rather than seeking to please the Master. In addition to that sentiment though, I also worry that we have hit so hard on trying to convert and immediately send people into ministries of their own that somewhere along the line, we failed to make sure that they had developed a truly relationship with Christ in the process. I remember how eager and excited I was when I first got baptized, but that did not mean I was ready for the pulpit or the mission field; it just meant that there was a great opportunity to teach and encourage me in my walk with God. Fortunately, I was given that guidance and direction; however, I fear today that too many are “converted,” but far too few are nurtured after that. As a result to our own neglects, we are seeing churches dying in the masses. We need to restore the simple things regarding a relationship with Christ and God before we can ever expect to see a true revival in the Church, and that will only come from people building a better relationship with the Master.

  6. mm Jason Turbeville says:

    Jay,
    I agree that this has been a year of great changes, I have learned about being vulnerable as well and it is very hard. You have done a tremendous job this year brother.

    Jason

  7. Greg says:

    Jay,

    I heard someone describe an movement by saying that, “they were already dead, they just don’t know it yet.” I have thought about that often as if refers to our own denomination and some of the choices we humans make. I know you and your denomination are not alone, but I am glad you desire to move away from the status quo that so many groups have fallen in to. Have a great summer.

  8. mm Jean Ollis says:

    Jay, I love that you are consistently vulnerable and speak directly from the heart. As a leader in your denomination, you have the capacity to impact great change and growth. I believe God has called you for such a time as this – that he will work in you and through you. Blessings to you this summer as you continue to seek God’s plans and desires for your ministry!

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